By: Natasha Archary
We all know that the 16 days of activism campaign, for no violence against women and children is an annual, observed occurance. Where for just over two weeks media, celebrities, feminist organisations and yes our government all hover around the limelight preaching to the proverbial choir. There’s no evading the inevitable. Unless of course, you’re President Jacob Zuma, who failed to show up at the launch of the national 16 days of Activism event, where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker.
So just how seriously is this campaign being taken? Community leaders and anti-gender violence organisations have in the past few days spoken out about the insignificance of this campaign, where for 16 days we all make a big hoohah about violence against women and children. What happens beyond those 16 days? Radio silence, that’s what.
Another controversy that media the world over lapped up with overwhelming enthusiasm this past week, was the engagement of former Suits actress, Meghan Markle to Prince Harry. Cue media frenzy! A 36 year-old bi-racial, American actress, who has a “past” (aka an ex husband) was now engaged to a Prince. Women (feminists included) were in awe, media went beserk, conversations in the office revolved around how fairytales did come true! Anyone could be a Princess!
Well not if the royals can help it! Markle will not be called a Princess, because she lacks royal blood. Hold on a second, did the late “Princess” Diana have royal blood? No! And yet, the world revered her as “Princess Diana of Wales”. To date she is still referred to as the late Princess Diana of Wales. What is the double standard at play here? A simple one, an age old one in fact. One that rests its laurels very firmly on public opinion. Yup that’s it. Diana was loved by the people and they gave her the title “The People’s Princess”, despite royal decrees vehemently detesting this. If this is the standard of princessifying women, why then we could all be royalty. Surely, Ms. Markle is deserving of the title as well. Is she not a successful actress with a huge fan following? Meghan Markle, the Princess of believers.
By no means is this an insult to Ms Markle, more an attempt to point out the ludicrousity of it all. Meghan Markle is the perfect example of a strong woman. Her strength is not a reflection of her past, race, age, beauty, sense of style, sexiness etc.
So what is the definition of strong when it comes to women?
The biggest insult to our gender ladies! Feminism used to be about women advocating for gender equality – equal rights for men and women on issues such as pay, the right to work, study, vote – in other words, the fight to have our collective voice heard. Feminism has however, taken a rather twisted turn of late, with the feminist movement feeling entitled to a piece of every pie (no pun intended). Having a vagina does not mean we should be gifted special treatment or be on the receiving end of more leniet rules and regulations.
Why is it okay for a woman to flirt with a man but the flip side will be cause for sexual harassment? Why do we expect men to be gentlemen and hold open the door, chair or extend a hand out to us and yet cry “I’m a feminist”? How can we demand for gender role reversals on the homefront and yet still long to be pursued, with a guarantee of picture-perfect love, magical wedding and white picket fence to boot?
So is feminism a measure of a woman’s strength? If not, what does that leave? An Alicia Keys song? Lest we forget that Keys was once the subject of scorn for being “the other woman”, wrecking a fellow feminists’ happily ever after. Whatever happened to women advocating FOR other women? If this is how we pay tribute to one another then feminism as a concept is deeply flawed.
STRENGTH OF A WOMAN
Every woman is a strong woman. We’ve all endured, all felt incredible pain, heartache, loss, sacrificed, perserved, rose from the ashes like a Phoenix to face another day. So there isn’t one definition of strong. There may be differing levels of strength, sure, but this does not negate from the fact that every woman is dressed in strong. By society’s standards a strong woman can be defined as an independent, driven, confident individual who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it.
Well society, we’ve got news for you! A strong woman is whoever the hell she wants to be! A lazy, chocolate-addicted, procrastinator if we so choose. An ambitious, hardworking, career-woman if we decide. A dedicated stay-at-home-mom by day and career blogger by night if we say so. Single, married, in complicated relationships, dating multiple men or commited in a monogamous relationships. Enough with the labels, the titles, the boxes that none of us want to fit into!
The strong women broken down:
Forget the clichés, you’ll find none of those here. Gone are the days of conventional dating, traditional relationships and submissive women who follow the “do as I say” rule-book. Strong women are adventurous, know what they want and will do whatever it takes to get it. There are no rules to dating in the 21st century and thank goodness for that liberating little nugget of information. Women don’t need to wait for a man to make the first move anymore. The feminist double standard should not apply! We want independence but still want a guy to approach us? Come on! Can we change these ridiculous expectations already?
“She work like a boss, play like a boss. Car and the crib, she ‘bout to pay them both off. And her bills are paid on time.”
This line may have been the anthem to every independent woman’s life at some point but there’s little merit in it. Independent women are capable of taking care of herself no doubt, but this does not only pertain to finances. An independent woman makes up the rules to her life as she sees fit and is answerable to no one. Independence in a relationship is the ability to loosen the reigns to allow your partner room to manoeuvre in. Strong women don’t like being controlled and her free-willed spirit cannot be tamed.
Her passion drives her, she thrives with the challenges her career presents. She is ambitious and wants nothing more than to succeed in every area. She probably takes on more than she should, juggling her career, the kids and of course you but she does it all effortlessly. Day after day, she pushes the boundaries, questioning the “norm”. She is qualified, experienced and capable. Nothing will stand in her way once she has her heart and mind set on the finish line.
The strong woman is confident in her own skin. She knows that she oozes beauty regardless of her size, colour and imperfections. She is her only competition, determined to be better than the woman she was yesterday. Her diet plan does not define her, yes she wants to look her best but who are you to tell her what her best is?
Have you ever tried to tell a strong woman that she couldn’t do something? Bet she proved you wrong by taking your negativity and running it out the ball park!
Perhaps we need to learn how to communicate with the opposite sex without snapping at every question posed. Either way her voice cannot be hushed! If she says she wants to, believe that she will. She isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and for what’s right. She challenges the status quo and she’s witty enough to run circles around your disbelief!
HEARTACHE & LOVE
Yes she’s been hurt before. She has lost faith in love and the pain it brings. But she is ONLY capable of love, it’s all she knows. It’s the foundation of every relationship she builds. She loves deeply, intensely and with raw emotion. Her love knows no end and every thing she does in life for you and everyone around her is bathed in her unconditional love. Hurt or not, she never loses faith that she is deserving of more than you were willing to give her.
Her journey to this point has been brutal. Life has not been kind to her. She has had her fair share of heartache and joy, love and pain but her spirit does not waver under adversities cruel stare. Try as you may to knock her off with a wrecking ball and she will defy all odds. Is there anything she can’t overcome? No! She is unstoppable, unbeatable…UNBREAKABLE.
We don’t need a ring on our finger to feel complete. Nor do we NEED to subscribe to the misguided ideals that feminism has become. The titles you place on us are irrelevant to our identities. Mother, wife, daughter, sister, lover…above all else we are WOMEN and we are strong! We don’t need 16 days to highlight the power we have but it would be nice if you stopped thinking we are yours to do with as you please!